I’m living proof that it does not matter how foolish you were when you were in love. No circumstance is escape-proof or permanent. Recovery is possible.
At seventeen, I ran away with an older man. He was not who I thought he was. The person I fell in love with was a construct he designed for me. The facade matched my naïve notion of love and preyed upon my ignorance of the realities of life.
I fled from Chicago, Illinois, to Cleveland, Ohio, against the advice of my mother, father, friends. I left my three-year-old son with my mom to pursue a career as a model. I wanted a better life.
It turned out the man was a pimp, and my fellow models-to-be were prostitutes. I was slated to be the newest addition to the brothel. During my time with him, I got worse, not better.
I remembered being in the lobby of a hotel. I was being trained as a “paid companion.” That night, I was assigned to observe the ladies as they went on their dates, collect the money when they came downstairs to prep for their next date, I would then dispatch cleaners to the rooms to prepare them for the next encounter. The three ladies I was responsible for were having a busy night, so it was difficult to keep track of everything.
I did not know if the pimp was watching me or not. I did not understand, but I was on my toes in case he was. I was taking my instructions from Baby, who was in charge. I was dressed in a black suit, hair pinned up, sensible shoes, and a matching purse. Small diamond earrings accented my dark brown eyes. Baby came over and sat next to me. She informed me I needed to come to the room with her.
“No,” I told her. “I’m collecting the money.” No one had forced me to prostitute myself, yet. I was to dispatch and hold the money. If someone arrested the ladies, they would confiscate any money on them.
The pimp was busy with one of the other girls, so Baby discreetly grabbed my arm and squeezed. We didn’t want to attract attention. “You will do what I tell you. I’m the one in charge.”
Baby had cowed me frequently, but not today. I continued to protest. “No, I’m not your whore.”
Baby leaned in close. “You are whatever I say you are. You are my whore. You will do what I say. I’ll charge what I want for you tonight. A thousand, five hundred, fifty, or even seven.” Baby laughed. “You’ll be my seven-dollar whore.”
I reached out and put my hand on Baby’s arm and squeezed her hard. “I’m not your seven-dollar whore. I’m not the same girl who came here two months ago. I’m not that bitch. I’m the brand-new bitch you made me into. I will mess you up right here, right now, if you don’t let me go. I’m not going upstairs.”
We stared into each other’s eyes.
“I will never be a seven-dollar whore. Never.” I said it with such force that spittle came out of my mouth and landed on her cheek.
Baby wiped it off and let go of my arm. “I’m going to fuck you up,” she said.
I laughed. “You are going to fuck me up more than I have fucked myself up?” I laughed again, bitterly. “That might be hard to do.” I sat down and took a deep breath as she walked away.
I eventually got the hell away from that situation. My life now is boring and normal. I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother. I had a good career. I have friends and family that love me. No one would know my past if I did not share.
People often lead poor lives because they cannot find a way out of their self-made binds. They have no hope. They see no future. But I am here to say there is always, always a possibility of a bright future.
There is no inescapable future. Taking one small step will make a difference. One step, just one step, will provide hope that change is possible. Hope is a game-changer.
Take that first step, turn the page on your past, and live the life you deserve.
It doesn’t matter where you started.
I can be reached at https://www.tonicrowewriter.com